The forgotten temple town of Rajasthan
A diversion off the national highway from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, 50 km away from Jaisalmer is Osian, a magical village of amazing temples. It is famous for medieval Hindu ( Vaishnava , Siv, Shakti ) and Jain ( Svetambara) temples which were built in Nagari Shali during the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty, 8th to 12th centuries A.D. Osian ranks next to Khajuraho and Bhubaneswar in the number of temples and the quality of architectural value.
I read about Osian before and was dying to visit this aesthetic wonder of Rajasthan. Unfortunately, we reached Osian when the sun was about set, a wrong time to visit architectural designs. However, my undaunted spirit was high enough to neglect all these problems and I just tried to soak Osian as much possible in 1.5 or 2 hours.
Of 108 Hindu temples and 1 Jain temple, only 15 Hindu temples and one Jain temple remain today. But from the Hindu Pujari of the Jain temple, P.Bhanu Prakash Sharma we came to know that Sachiya Mata Temple is the only Hindu temple to see in its good condition.
The Sachiyay Mata Temple
The Sachiyay Mata temple is situated on the top of a hill and the main temple, ordained with small temples around it, looks wonderful.
The high shallow roof of the mandapa and mahamandapa rests on pillars and are arranged so as to form an octagon and support a shallow dome.
This temple has gone through several renovations during all these years. So maybe some outer part of it are not that old and have developed characteristics of the Rajputana temple.
The pillars and torana at the entrance add distinctive notes that are found only in Rajputana and Gujarat.
Lack of proper preservation is spoiling the beauty of the valuable statues.
The Jain Temple
It was then almost dark when we came out of the Sachiyay Mata Temple. As this place is not a popular tourist spot, it is hard to find out what you want to see. A man approached me while coming out from the Sachiyay Mata Temple (probably seeing me capturing pictures), “would you like to go to the Jain Temple?” It was like asking a hungry person to have dinner! He took me to the Jain temple. Here you have to take a Camera pass of Rs.100/-.
This temple was built in the last quarter of the eighth century. The calm and quiet atmosphere of this temple may hypnotise you for some time. The inner wall of the temple is decorated with figures of astha dikpalas, tirthankaras, Yakshinis etc.
The smell of the incense sticks, the silence of the stone and the dim light within the temple create a medieval ambience even in this 21st century.
“A niche in Mahavira Temple contains sculpture of interwined snakes which also is worshipped by Oswal Jain, as adhisthatyaka – devetas. This leads us to believe that a sizeable part of the populace in that period may have belonged to naga extraction.”—Wikipedia.
Interesting Fact: Though hundreds of Jain people come to worship at this temple every day, not a single Jain lives at this village. It is said that the Jain Saint Ratnaprabbhu Suri came to Upkeshpur Patan(old name of Osian) with his 500 disciples to popularise Jain religion in this area. This area was really a rich and popular town in the Hindu period. However, the saint prayed to Sachiyay Mata (the royal family was her worshipper) for progress. Mata directed the king in his dream to build Tirthankar temple in the midst of the town. She also directed to dig out the statue of the 24th Jain Tirthankara Shri Mahavir from underground. The local Jain people took out the statue but saw a big knot on its chest. As it looked awkward, they cut it and stream of blood began to flow. Because of this the Mata became angry and cursed the Jain people to quit Osian. The Jain people come to Osian to pray at the Jain temple but first, they visit the Sachiyay Mata Temple, offer her manat then they go to their destination.
Though my interaction with Osian was for a very little time, this historical town which is now deserted after the attack of Muhammed of Ghor in 1195, is still haunting me.
Before starting for our hotel in Jodhpur, we tasted Fafda (a Gujarati snack) here. It was awesome with hot roasted masala chilli. ☺